Huntoon Stables has been in the business of teaching horsemanship since 1932. We teach primarily Saddleseat lessons, which is one of the four major disciplines recognized by the United States Equestrian Federation.
Saddleseat is an English style of riding, but there is no jumping involved. It requires a great deal of discipline, but when you become proficient it will provide you with a lifetime of enjoyment and the ability to easily switch to other, or additional, styles of riding if you should so choose.
New students, even those with some prior experience at other facilities, are required to start with our Evaluation package which consists of two 1/2 hour private lessons. If you have never ridden, they will give you an idea of what to expect. If you have ridden, it will introduce you to our lesson program. Either way, it will give your instructor an idea of your experience level and help her to select the proper horse for you to use in future lessons.
We require all of our students to wear SEI approved protective headwear while riding. These helmets can be purchased at most tack stores or ordered through many of the catalogs. We have found that most of the younger riders prefer the plastic helmets. They have air vents, which make them cooler to wear in hot weather, and they are lighter weight. There are at least two locations within ten minutes of the stable that sell helmets.
All of our lessons are one-half hour private lessons until you graduate to the Pre-Advanced level. They are strictly one-on-one lessons with no other riders or horses in the arena during your lesson time. Our lesson schedule starts in mid-afternoon on Tuesday through Friday and we teach every half hour with the last lesson ending at 9:00 P.M. except Friday which ends at 8:00 P.M. There are also a few half-hour slots on Sunday afternoons.
Pre-Advanced and Advanced riders are often students who have an interest in continuing their equine involvement into the show ring, although some riders have no such interest. They merely want to enjoy the thrill of riding the show horses at home. These riders are required to ride twice weekly. One lesson is a private lesson while the other one is with a group, as riders entering the show ring need to be able to maneuver around many other horses and riders without getting into trouble.
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The Novice lesson program (for riders 8 and older)
Our beginning, or Novice, riders will ride at a walk and trot only. They will concentrate on posture and position, proper use of their reins and basic horsemanship skills. It is important for them to be physically fit before they start lessons. Riding is considered strong physical exercise and, while our horses are gentle and well trained, a horse really does not care if your arms are tired or you do not feel good or you had a bad day at school. They are trained to respond to certain signals from their rider and that is what they expect. Be prepared to work hard. When the novice riders become proficient at posting and control of the horse and learn their diagonals, they will be ready to move up to the Intermediate lessons. If you stick with the riding, all the hard work will pay off with the ability to have a lifetime of enjoyment with horses.
POSTING & DIAGONALS|
A trot is a 2 beat diagonal gait. The horse's diagonal legs move in unison. Posting is standing when one pair of legs moves forward and sitting when the other pair moves forward. When riding in a circle or going around the curved end of an arena, you should rise in unison with the front leg which is to the outside of the circle - the leg taking the slightly longer stride - so you post to the outside diagonal.
The canter is a three beat gait. It begins with the horse's hind leg, then the other hind leg and diagonal front leg in unison followed by the other front leg. When cantering in a circle or arena, it is important that the front leg to the inside of the circle leads, or is the last foot to strike the ground and ends in a leading position. Try 'play cantering' in a circle, letting one leg land in front, then the other. Which is more comfortable?
|The Intermediate lesson program
Intermediate riders will continue improving what they learned in their Novice lessons, but they will also begin to canter. As well as learning the proper signals and techniques to make the horse canter, they will learn about canter leads. Posting on the correct diagonal and cantering on the proper lead are both very important in the show ring. You will continue to work on your own body control. Your legs, arms and hands all have an important role to play and, most of the time, they will all be doing something and not necessarily in unison. It takes a lot of practice to put everything together but, when you get to the point that you can do that, you will begin to feel like you actually know how to ride a horse, not just go for a horseback ride!
The Pre-Advanced lesson program
When your instructor says you are ready to advance to our Pre-Advanced lessons, there will be several changes in what you do. The major change will be that you will be need to be able to ride two times each week. Very shortly, you will begin to take one private lesson and one group lesson each week. After you get accustomed to this you will begin to ride one of the more advanced horses for your private lesson and, eventually, in your group lesson, as well.
During your Novice and Intermediate lessons we will spend some time with you before or after your lesson to show you how to properly groom a horse and how to put on and take off the horse's tack. When you reach the Pre-Advanced level, you will be expected to come to the stable about one-half hour before your lesson time to get your own horse ready. You will also be expected to stay after your lesson to cool your horse down and properly groom it before putting it back in its stall. This can take from one-half hour or longer, depending on the horse you ride, how active your lesson is, what the weather conditions are plus other factors.
This means that if you choose to move into this level you need to be dedicated to what you are doing. However, it also means you are probably ready and able to start exhibiting in some of the Academy classes at shows away from the stable. Before you choose to move into Pre-Advanced lessons, discuss the pros and cons with your family and instructor.
With all of your lessons, no matter what level you are riding at, each lesson will build on what you learned in previous lessons. You learn the very basics early on - how to start, stop, turn, basic posture - much of the rest of what you learn is how to improve on the basics until you can do what you need to do without having to stop and think about it, because the horse is always thinking about what it is doing. With enough practice, you will be able to contemplate what the horse is thinking and be able to make him do what you want, when you want, and make it look like it was easy for you to do so.
The Advanced lesson program
Our Advanced lesson program is structured the same as Pre-Advanced. You will have become accomplished enough in your riding to be able to ride and show (if you desire) our Advanced horses at area horse shows in whatever classes they and you are qualified for. There are many divisions with an excellent selection of classes at most of the shows we attend. Copyright © 2011 - Huntoon Stables, 507 Oak Street, N. Aurora, IL 60542
All people who become actively involved in any sport need to continually practice and work on their skills. Even those who become professionals usually need a coach or trainer to keep them sharp and spot areas where they need to improve or change. Riding at this level is no different and this is much of what takes place in our Advanced lessons.
Whether or not you decide to show, your lessons will be conducted as if that is your goal. You will be capable of and therefore expected to treat these horses and ride them in the manner necessary to keep them sharp and responsive to your signals. Every lesson will not be perfect, but you will be expected to ride at this level to the best of your ability.
If you ride until you are 100, you will continue to learn something new about horses, caring for them, riding them and communicating with them every time you are around them. They, just as you, are living, thinking beings. They have good days and bad days, days they don't feel well, days they are bored. Like children, sometimes they are overly rambunctious, sometimes they are lazy. With enough practice and experience you will reach the point where you can usually recognize most of the signs of what your horse is thinking and feeling and be able to deal with it in a very successful manner. This is what makes working with horses exciting and worthwhile.
We hope these brief descriptions of our lesson programs has answered many of your questions. Please call us, or feel free to visit us, to learn more about what we do or to schedule an appointment. Thank you!